(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
In the photo above, taken Saturday, Oct. 9, 1999, a cross made of stones rests below the fence in Laramie, Wy.
In that spot a year earlier, two men offered Matthew Shephard a ride home form a bar in Laramie. Instead, they took this young man out to a remote rural area, then robbed him. As if that was not enough, they then beat him, pistol-whipping him until his skull was fractured. They tied him to this fence and left him to die in the freezing weather. Shephard died 6 days later. He was 21 years old.
At the trial of the men accused, it was made clear that the murder of this young man was done for no other reason than he was gay. At the penalty phase of one of the defendants, as the death penalty was being discussed, Matthew’s parents brokered a deal with the prosecution to spare the defendant his life.
In 2007, the “Matthew Shepard and Jams Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act” was introduced and the subsequent legislation became law with President Obama’s signature in 2009.
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